I Got a Story Brewing, Do I Have to Write from Beginning to End?

John Steinbeck on Story telling...
by Jill Clardy

There is a common misconception with new writers that writing, of any kind, has to be done in a sequential order.  First you work on the intro, then progress chapter by chapter until you reach the end.  The problem with this approach, however, is that it stifles creativity.

Now, I will say that if you write best from beginning to end, then do it.  Everyone ultimately needs to figure out what way of writing works out best for them and go with it.  As an example, more times than not I end up writing from beginning all the way to the end, but I don’t allow it to stop me from writing another portion of the story if I have a good idea to write about.

The fact of the matter is, there are plenty of authors who will start at the end of their book and connect the story to that point, I can think of even more who start somewhere in the middle.

There are a few benefits to writing sporadically throughout the book rather than from start to finish.

1. It gets the idea on paper.
It’s hard enough to come up with good ideas for a story at times, but to come up with a concept and then hold onto it for who knows how long until you reach the point where the idea is applicable is near impossible.  Allowing yourself to write different segments of a novel as it comes to you allows for better writing and helps keep your writing as pure to the original idea as possible.

2. You get to write the parts you want to write.
I’m sure we can agree that there are parts in every story that you just don’t really want to write.  Not because it isn’t a good or important segment of the book, but because it’s more difficult than another segment that is more appealing.  For some, dialog is the challenge, for others it might be battle scenes, or descriptions.  Writing piece-meal like this can help you get story moving forward and ultimately it can help putting the harder to write segments together.

3. It gives your creativity more freedom.
Think about it this way: You are in a small group brainstorming ideas for a presentation that you have to make in class.  You come up with a great suggestion that would make the ending of the presentation outstanding and everyone else in the group completely shuts you out because it has nothing to do with the beginning.  It would make you want to stay quiet the rest of the meet right?  This is how I imagine my mind must work while I’m writing.  If my mind is able to come up with a really good idea I know that I shouldn’t shut it down because it has nothing to do with what I’m working on.  That just hurts the creative flow that I so desperately rely on for my writing.

And this is just a few of the benefits to allowing yourself to start your story and write a bit sporadically and then connecting the dots later.

How do you write?  From Start to Finish, End to Beginning, or everywhere in between?

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